Nigeria sets area mixed 4x400m record

Edwin  - CEO March 20, 2024
Updated 2024/03/20 at 7:35 PM
12 Min Read
Tsige Duguma on her way to the 800m title at the African Games in Accra (© AFP / Getty Images)/World Athletics
Tsige Duguma on her way to the 800m title at the African Games in Accra (© AFP / Getty Images)/World Athletics

Duguma adds to medal haul at African Games in Accra


African Games Medal Count


Global champions Tsige Duguma and Medina Eisa won, and an African record in the mixed 4x400m was set. Championship records in the women’s pole vault and hammer throw were some of the highlights from the first two days of athletics action at the African Games in Accra, Ghana, on Monday and Tuesday (18-19), Yemi Olus-Galadima reports for World Athletics.


Fresh from her gold medal-winning exploits at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma left little margin for error in the women’s 800m. The 2022 national 400m champion controlled the race from start to finish and was unstoppable.


She won in 1:57.73, improving her 800m lifetime best of 1:58.35, which she set to secure her world indoor title in Glasgow. She finished ahead of 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda, who returned a time of 1:58.59. Completing the podium was Kenya’s Vivian Kiprotich, who took the bronze with 2:00.27.


World U20 champion Medina Eisa led Ethiopia’s medal sweep in the women’s 5000m. The young squad comprising Eisa, Birtukan Molla, and world U20 silver medallist Melknat Wudu had to contend with world record-holder in the women’s steeplechase, Beatrice Chepkoech.


Nevertheless, the trio played their cards well, and as hard as the Kenyan tried to keep up with her fellow East African rivals, she could not, as the youngsters pulled clear to achieve a 1-2-3. World Championships finalist Eisa clocked 15:04.32 for gold, Molla posted a lifetime best of 15:05.32 in second, and Wudu posted 15:07.04 for third. Chepkoech finished fourth in 15:13.71.


The first track event to be decided in Accra was the men’s 3000m steeplechase, and the world U20 silver medallist from Cali, Samuel Firewu, outsmarted his Kenyan rivals to take the race. Allowing them to take the lead but staying just close enough to launch out at the sound of the bell, he sped away from the rest of the field.


Kenya’s Amos Serem and Simon Kiprop’s efforts to catch up with the youngster proved unsuccessful. He charged down the finish straight to take the win in 8:24.30, with Serem and Kiprop settling for silver and bronze, respectively, in 8:25.77 and 8:26.19.


There was another win for Ethiopia in the men’s 10,000m, where Nimret Melak and his compatriot Gemechu Dida claimed the gold and silver medals, denying home athlete William Amponsah the opportunity of a fairytale ending. The Ghanaian stole the show after making his way into the lead for most of the race. However, he lost steam with a few laps to go, losing the advantage to Melak and Dida, who recorded times of 29:45.37 and 29:45.68. Kenya’s Kiptum Evans took the bronze, while Amponsah was rewarded with a national record of 29:50.99 for his efforts.


Eseme and Bass-Bittaye claim sprint titles.

Making its first appearance at the African Games, the mixed 4x400m saw the Nigerian quartet of Emmanuel Ojeli, Patience Okon-George, Sikiru Adeyemi, and Omolara Ogunmakinju storm to an area record of 3:13.26. They closed an almost 20-metre lead established by Botswana to take the gold medal and improve their previous African record set at the Tokyo Olympics.


Ojeli led for Nigeria and handed the baton to Okon-George, who held off the threat posed by Botswana’s Lydia Jele. Adeyemi received the baton in first place, but African 400m silver medallist Bayapo Ndori proved too strong and gained the lead for Botswana, with his teammate Kamberuka Obakeng further widening the gap on the anchor leg.


As she began to tire, Nigeria’s Ogunmakinju overtook the Botswana athlete to win. Botswana was rewarded with a national record of 3:13.99, while the Kenyan team, anchored by world 800m champion Mary Moraa, settled for bronze in 3:18.03.


Cameroon’s Emmanuel Eseme was in a class of his own in the men’s 100m, where he maintained a winning streak to become the first athlete from his country to strike gold at the African Games.


The two-time finalist at the Commonwealth Games gave a good account of himself in the heats, where he clocked 10.15 to finish ahead of the bronze medallist from the last edition of the Games in Rabat, Nigeria’s Usheoritse Itsekiri. The Cameroonian was drawn alongside home sprinter Benjamin Azamati in the semifinals and has prevailed again. He was strong in the final, racing to a season’s best of 10.14 for the win as the Nigerian athlete upgraded to silver (10.23). The bronze medal went to Namibia’s Gilbert Hainuca in 10.29.


A similar story unfolded in the women’s event as Gambian Gina Bass-Bittaye dominated all her races to claim gold in the 100m, going one better than the silver she won in Rabat five years ago. She clocked 11.36 as Liberia’s Maia Alyse Mccoy came through for silver in 11.49. Nigeria’s Olayinka Olajide was given the nod for bronze ahead of Madagascar’s Claudine Njarasoa as they recorded 11.55.


Senegal’s Louis Francois Mendy was the man to beat in the 110m hurdles. Having settled for bronze at the last edition of the Games in Rabat, this time, he defeated the defending champion, Algeria’s Amine Bouanani, with a time of 13.61.


Games records for Reinstorf and Tatar


The women’s pole vault only featured South Africa’s Mire Reinstorf and Tunisia’s Dorra Mahfoudhi, the defending champion and championship record-holder, but it ended with a record-breaking result.


The Games record was 4.31m, set by the more experienced Mahfoudhi in Rabat. However, it was an off day for the two-time African Games champion, whose competition ended at 3.70m, which she got on her second attempt.

The opposite was the case for the South African, who equaled her PB of 4.15m and took it a notch higher to 4.25m for the third time of asking. The bar was raised again to 4.35m, and after falling short at her first two attempts, the 2021 world U20 champion soared to a Games record, adding a massive 20cm to her previous lifetime best set in Nairobi.


The women’s hammer throw delivered a spectacular showpiece, as each of the top three contenders recorded a Games record during the competition. Algeria’s Zahra Tatar ensured she dug deep to produce the performance of a lifetime and take the gold medal despite having only two legal throws.


The other Algerian in the field, Zouina Bouzebra, threw a Games record of 67.32m on her first throw, and her teammate Tatar bettered the mark by more than one meter with her third attempt. African champion Sade Olatoye of Nigeria took the lead in the third round with an effort of 68.56m. In comparison, Bouzebra responded with a fourth-round effort and another Games record of 68.97m to lead the pack. Having fouled on her first, third, and fourth throws, Tatar launched a lifetime best of 69.65m, and even though Olatoye recorded a final throw of 68.92m, it wasn’t enough to reclaim the top spot, and she had to settle for third place.


Nigeria’s Chukwuebuka Enekwechi successfully defended his title in the men’s shot put. The 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist’s best throw of the evening, 21.06m, was enough to win him the gold.


Home athlete Rose Yeboah gave the crowd something to cheer about in the women’s high jump as the World University Games winner cleared 1.94m to take the title. Making her first appearance at the African Games, Ruth Usoro of Nigeria claimed gold in the women’s triple jump with a mark of 13.80m, which she got on her third try.


Three-time African champion Victor Hogan scooped the first gold medal of the Games in the men’s discus. The South African left his best throw for last to dominate his specialist event, recording a distance of 62.56m.


After two days of grueling competition, South Africa’s Fredriech Pretorius amassed 7550 points to win gold in the decathlon, having dominated in five of the ten events: the shot put, 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, and javelin.


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